JOHN LUKACS Biography - Writers

 
 

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JOHN LUKACS

John Adalbert Lukacs (born 31 January 1924 in Budapest; in Hungary his name             
spelled Luk√°cs) is a Hungarian-born American historian who has written more than       
twenty-five books, including Five Days in London, May 1940 and A New Republic.         
He was a professor of history at Chestnut Hill College (where he succeeded Erik         
von Kuehnelt-Leddihn) from 1947 to 1994, and the chair of that history                 
department from 1947 to 1974. He has served as a visiting professor at Johns           
Hopkins University, Columbia University, Princeton University and La Salle             
University.                                                                             
                                                                                       
Lukacs was born to a Roman Catholic father and Jewish mother. His parents               
divorced before World War II. Although Lukacs was raised Catholic, he was forced       
to serve in a Hungarian labor battalion for converted Jews during the war. He           
evaded deportation to the death camps in 1944-45 and survived the Siege of             
Budapest. In 1946, he fled Hungary for the United States. In the early 1950s,           
Lukacs wrote several articles in Commonweal criticizing Senator Joseph McCarthy,       
whom he described as a vulgar demagogue.                                               
                                                                                       
Lukacs sees populism as the greatest threat to civilization. By his own                 
description, Lukacs considers himself to be a reactionary. In Lukacs's view, the       
essence of both National Socialism and Socialism was populism. Lukacs does not         
believe in generic fascism, in his opinion the differences between Nazi Germany         
and Fascist Italy were far greater than the similarities. Lukacs sees himself as       
the defender of the traditional values of Western civilization against what he         
regards as the debasing leveling effects of modern mass civilization, and above         
the institution that Lukacs sees as the supreme guardian of Western values,             
namely the Roman Catholic Church.                                                       
                                                                                       
Lukacs has argued that the best form of government is that of an enlightened           
elite, preferably a Catholic elite. A major theme of Lukacs's writing has               
concerned an assertion by the French historian Alexis de Tocqueville in the 19th       
century that all states, whether monarchies or republics, had been dominated by         
aristocratic elites, and the age of aristocratic elites was drawing to a close         
and the age of democratic elites reflecting the interests and concerns of the           
masses was dawning. Much of Lukacs's writings are concerned with what he regards       
as this transition from aristocratic to democratic elites and its consequences,         
especially towards historiography.                                                     
                                                                                       
By his own admission an intense Anglophile, Lukacs's favorite historical figure         
is Winston Churchill, whom Lukacs considers the greatest statesman of the 20th         
century and the savior of not only Great Britain, but also of Western                   
civilization. Lukacs holds strong neo-isolationist beliefs, and perhaps                 
unusually for an anti-Communist Hungarian Emigre, was strongly opposed to the           
Cold War. Lukacs often argued his belief that the Soviet Union was a feeble             
power on the verge of collapse, and contended that the Cold War was an                 
unnecessary waste of American treasure and life. Likewise, Lukacs is strongly           
critical of the administration of George W. Bush and has condemned the 2003             
invasion of Iraq.                                                                       
                                                                                       
In his 1997 book, George F. Kennan and the Origins of Containment, 1944-1946, a         
collection of letters between Lukacs and his close friend George F. Kennan; both       
Lukacs and Kennan criticized the New Left interpretation of the Cold War being         
caused by the United States. Lukacs argued that though Joseph Stalin was largely       
responsible for the beginning of the Cold War, it was the administration of             
Dwight Eisenhower which missed the chance for ending the Cold War in 1953, and         
thus unnecessarily allowed the Cold War to go on for decades more.